"he saw the linen cloths..."

Recent reports of scientific research carried out into the Shroud of Turin by scientists from Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, Enea, do not appear to have been ‘replicated’ in much of the Irish media.

Unless, I’ve missed something, neither the Irish Times nor RTÉ appear to have found the reports newsworthy.

The Irish Independent carried a report by Nick Squire, Turin Shroud not medieval forgery, says new research – Irish Independent – Tue 20 Dec, 2011, which had appeared in the Daily Telegraph, the previous day, under the title Italian study claims Turin Shroud is Christ’s authentic burial robe – Telegraph – Mon 19 Dec, 2011.

But, the British press appears to have given far greater prominence to this shroud research, which constitutes yet another challenge for those attempting to defend a position of atheistic non-belief.

There were, for example, also reports in the (London) Independent, Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – Independent – Tue 20 Dec and the Daily Mail, Could the Shroud of Turin be real after all? Scientists recreate iconic image with ‘blinding flash of light’ – Daily Mail – Tue 20 Dec.

A comparatively sceptical, and, I would say, somewhat biased analysis appears here, Was Holy Shroud created in a flash? Italian researchers resurrect claim – MSNBC – Thu 22 Dec, 2011  on an MSNBC blog. However, it does contain some interesting mediated correspondence between lead researcher Paolo Di Lazzaro and sceptic Joe Nickell.

On the day, when the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast Day of St John the Evangelist — who was the first disciple described in the Gospel to have seen ‘the linen cloths’ — attention is also drawn to the Sudarium of Oviedo. This is believed to have been hooked over Christ’s head, after his death (please see below).

The blood type common to both of these relics is the relatively rare  ‘AB’, found in less than 5% of the population.

And, although, the Sudarium contains no image, there are several other coincidences between both objects. For example the length of the nose can be deduced from both pieces of cloth to be eight centimetres in length, and the frontal stains on the Sudarium show seventy points of coincidence with the Shroud.

The Sudarium of Oviedo - contains same blood type, AB, as that of the Shroud of Turin

The Sudarium of Oviedo - contains same blood type, AB, as that of the Shroud of Turin

…and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the other napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.  (John 20: 5-9)


The Family and Media Association welcomes the decision of the Government to order an inquiry into the Prime Time Investigates programme, Mission to Prey, which defamed Fr Kevin Reynolds. However, the choice of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to carry out this investigation raises some concerns.

The BAI’s track record leaves much to be desired regarding its ability to identify broadcasts which are offensive, unfair and harmful to Catholics.

As recently as May of this year, its compliance Committee failed to uphold a complaint against Today FM, for a broadcast which, in FMA’s view, was clearly biased and unfair, and may even have been an incitement to hatred.

Had a similar attack been made on those of a different religious faith, such an attack would, quite rightly, not have been tolerated.

The presence of an elementary grammatical error in the BAI’s written response, did little to inspire confidence in its poorly argued judgement.

As pointed out by Senator Rónán Mullen, “there could be some kind of institutional bias against clergy in particular arising out of scandals and so on”. If such an institutional bias does indeed exist, the BAI, itself, may not be immune from its effects.


Cat 'out of the bag' but no one in RTÉ can see it!

Mary Wilson missed another opportunity, on last night’s Drivetime  (Wed 23rd Nov, 2011), to point out the ‘clear and present’ double standard in RTE’s attitude to their own “rolled heads” as contrasted with those of the Church.

The second Drivetime interview with Kevin Dawson, RTÉ’s Head of Corporate Communications, on the subject of the Fr Kevin Reynolds case, had much to commend it, as did the first.

Yes. Things started well enough. But, it all began to unravel, towards the end, and Mr Dawson was effectively allowed to finish on a ‘high’.

First of all, the RTÉ representative was left unchallenged after he tried to explain away the high-speed monotone in which last week’s first apology was read out:

“although, there were  some technical issues there, qualitative issues, it wasn’t any kind of an emblem of RTE being half-hearted about delivering the apology. The apology is very fully meant.”

(hard to take seriously, one is tempted to think, given the undoubted talent that RTÉ has at its disposal).

That was followed by  a ‘straw man’ question from Ms Wilson, ‘straw-man’ in that it contained an inaccurate reference (rolled heads “never” learn anything) to what Mr Dawson said last week. What he actually said was “it is difficult, so to speak, for a rolled head to learn anything”. Mr Dawson was happy to point out the inaccuracy: “I don’t think I said, ‘never learn'”.

He then went on, not so much to let the cat out of the bag, as to deliberately take it out and parade it around the studio.

… (Sanctions) may sometimes be the right direction to go and the necessary direction to go. On the other hand, the media commentator, Stephen Price…” (obviously a much more important person, with much more important opinions than those of, for example, mere ‘turbulent priests’) “… has pointed out that there is a serious risk, here, that investigative current affairs, which is carried on very extensively in RTE and with a very excellent track record…”  (once it has absolutely nothing to do with the Church) “… also, could be damaged, depending on how the out-turn of this whole process stands, and there has been a wish to balance the learning that is necessary in this with a minimum of damage to the future output of RTE,  and part of the point that was being made last week was that if you move towards the first, more severe sanction, very quickly, you lose the opportunity of having experienced and talented people take on board the lessons of this affair within the process of RTÉ’s investigative current affairs.”

In other words, the Institution and the Institution’s mission is ultimately more important than any people it might abuse along the way.  Sound familiar? Well not, apparently, to Mr Dawson or, for that matter, and for the second week running, to Ms Wilson. They still don’t get it!

To illustrate the point, why not try doing a little thought experiment: replace ‘RTE’ with ‘Church’, in the above passage, and ‘investigative current affairs’ with ‘charitable works’, and play back that interview, in your head, but with a real bishop speaking this time, instead of the RTE representative.

It is hard to imagine Mary Wilson or, indeed, any other RTÉ presenter not jumping all over that comment.

Instead, yesterday evening, at about 18:45, with the cat all but dancing in her hair, the Presenter promptly ended the interview and passed the ball to a “patiently waiting” Robbie Irwin.


Posted: November 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

'Under the microscope': RTE and its treatment of the Church


A FRIGHTENING DOUBLE STANDARD in RTE’s attitudes to child abuse and the Catholic Church has emerged in the last 24 hours.

Following the settlement, at the High Court, yesterday afternoon, of the Fr Kevin Reynolds defamation case, Kevin Dawson, Head of Corporate Communications at RTE, decided to go on the Station’s Drivetime programme to be interviewed by Mary Wilson, at 5:40pm.

When asked, would heads now roll, over the Fr Reynolds case, Mr Dawson said, “It’s very difficult for a rolled head, so to speak, to learn anything”.

This response is in stark contrast to the attitude adopted by RTE towards the priests and bishops which the Station helped to hound out of office.

The irony of RTE’s position, however, appears to have been lost, not only on Mr Dawson, but also on the Drivetime Presenter, who decided not to follow up with a related question.

Later, that night, as part of the terms of the Settlement, an apology was read out on air on RTE 1, immediately prior to the screening of Prime Time (it was last May’s Prime Time programme, ‘Mission to Prey’ which gave rise to yesterday’s defamation case in the High Court).

Although the wording of the apology was comprehensive, it was read out quickly and in a monotone way, as pointed out by Fr Sean McMcDonagh of the Association of Catholic Priests and Fr Eamon Aylward of the Irish Missionary Union, on Friday’s Today with Pat Kenny.

Fr McDonagh also pointed out that had it been a bishop who had been required, by a court, to read out an apology, and had the bishop got someone to read the apology in a similar monotone way to the way last night’s Prime Time Apology was read, that bishop would have been subject to severe media criticism.

These incidents, in the last 24 hours alone, have revealed a worrying double standard in the way RTE holds people and organizations to account for their actions. It cannot be a matter of one rule for priests and bishops and another rule for RTE journalists and producers. More generally, it cannot be a matter of one rule for the Church and another for RTE!

The challenges now facing RTE are formidable and while it is clear the Station would wish to be able, quickly, to put the affair behind it, in reality, it will have some work to do if it is to tackle the growing impression among ordinary Catholics that when it comes to fair play for the Church, the Institution that is RTE ‘still doesn’t get it’!

The Family and Media Association is encouraging its members and other people of good will to protest this obvious double standard on the part of RTE by contacting the Station and other authorities.

See also RTE’s ‘Mission to Prey’ (on an innocent Catholic priest!)

It is hardly surprising if a majority of the messages sent to the Department of the Taoiseach in the two weeks following Enda Kenny’s Cloyne speech, expressed support for the Taoiseach, as reported in this morning’s Irish Examiner.

However, this finding does not vindicate the Government’s position.

Instead of vindicating the Taoiseach, the finding should rather be seen as an indictment:…of the Taoiseach and his Government, for misleading the people; and of ‘the media’, for failing to alert the public to the significant errors in the Taoiseach’s speech.

The people, as a whole were rightly angry about the mismanagement of child abuse cases by the Church and some were relieved when the Taoiseach appeared to give vent to this anger, even if his actions seemed to be an attempt to deflect anger from the Government over its decision to break an election promise and close the Accident and Emergency unit of Roscommon Hospital.

But the people could not have suspected that the Taoiseach would have made so many inaccurate claims about so grave a matter when addressing the Dáil.  If you lie to the people and then say the people believed you, that does not make the lie true!

You see, the facts quite simply did not support the Taoiseach, and when asked to substantiate, for instance, his very specific claim that “for the first time in Ireland, a report in child sexual abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago”, Enda Kenny, through his spokesperson, was quite unable to do so in any remotely satisfactory way.

Nor did the Taoiseach make an attempt to address the charge that he had quoted the Pope completely out of context or that the Taoiseach was, in effect, criticising the Holy See for not having expressed full support, some 14 years ago (the issue of Archbishop Storeo’s  1997 letter) , for a measure which the then Fine Gael/Labour coalition government, of which he was a member, did not itself support!

The media has, by and large failed to give adequate airing to these charges against the Taoiseach and, in so far as it has done so, it has not presented them as solidly grounded in fact, which they are, but simply as part of a feeble defense which should not be seriously entertained. By contrast, the Taoiseach’s allegations were, by and large, unquestioningly presented as facts. Facts presented as fakes and fakes presented as facts. The irony should not be lost on Seán Gallagher!

Didn’t we hear somewhere that journalism  is  supposed to be about the facts, a point made again recently in defence of Eamon Dunphy’s alleged failure as a journalist for not making people ‘feel good about themselves’?

But if ‘news is news’, and the facts matter, why is the Examiner not taking the opportunity, in this  morning’s  article, to point out the fact that Enda Kenny got his facts wrong?

Instead, by reporting  on approval for the Taoiseach’s Cloyne speech without  addressing the fake elephants in the room of  false allegations  and misleading  the Dail, the Examiner  is only covering up the truth and covering  for the  Taoiseach, a  sad parody of what good  journalism  should be.

Rather than seeking to defend the indefensible, The Examiner and the Irish  media, in  general, would be better served by finding out who really wrote that speech, for example, as it displayed, in equal measure, an ignorance and a knowledge well beyond the Taoiseach, as well as an agenda which had less to do with addressing the management of child abuse by the Church (much less that of child abuse, in general) than it had to do with stitching up the Pope. We need to ask, then, whose hands are rocking the cradle of the ‘new republic’?

The people were and continue to be largely, misinformed  by the Government. And this is happening under the nose of a sleeping media which only seems to wake up these days in order to bark at the Church or some other politically approved target.

One must also consider if the relatively low proportion of critical messages from  is not also a reflection of the degree to which people feel alienated from the Government and the media.

This is a most serious issue for our democracy. If the Government can get away with telling lies about the Earthly leader of the  Faith adhered to by the majority of its citizens, then is it surprising if some people were tempted to ask, what’s the pont in complaining?

“If you lie to the people and then say the people believed you, that does not make the lie true!”


"I pretended to be a former BIG terrorist's campaign team and told a BIG whopper on a BIG anti-social networking site and then a BIG television station in a LITTLE country got the BIG whopper with the former BIG terrorist's name on it and put it in front of this BIG man who was winning this BIG race and this BIG man tripped over this BIG whopper and fell on... (is it ok to say 'Aras'?) and this little man jumped over the BIG man and won the BIG race but everyone was happy,.. I THINK:..the little man who won the BIG race, and all the little people in the BIG TV station and the former BIG terrorist and the BIG man... Well.. ...maybe the BIG man wasn't THAT happy, really!...Is that a sin and do you have to tell people what I did so the BIG station doesn't get upset, even though they may kinda know anyway?"

Did an error by RTÉ Frontline, on Monday, change the outcome of Thursday’s  presidential election? That’s the question that no one seems willing to ask publicly and directly.

In his Irish Times blog, yesterday, Harry McGee outlined “a number of problems” about the false tweet that “appeared”, on the Frontline, on Monday night. ‘The Tweet that was heard all round the world’ came from a fake account and was retweeted by several duped tweeters who inadvertently authenticated the fake.

Fine! All of this highlights some serious problems about the way Twitter works. But, that’s where the lie should have stayed. The RTÉ Frontline team, however made a serious mistake — one which in my view changed the outcome of Thursday’s presidential election — when they allowed Pat Kenny to confront Seán Gallagher with the tweet  live on air on Monday night and present it as if it were fact.

In his blog, McGee accurately described the decision to “read (the tweet) out live on air” as “a most serious implication, and worrying development”. Said McGee, “I have been on to RTE about this and they didn’t come back with any official, or satisfactory, response. It seems that the broadcaster has no protocol for handling tweets. But it’s my contention that they should. And it would be dangerous for the broadcaster to allow an incident like this to be repeated.”

“Dangerous”? For Seán Gallagher, it has already been fatal, although one could see how RTÉ and other ‘elements of the media’ might not view the election of President Michael D Higgins at the expense of Seán Gallagher as a negative outcome to Monday’s events.

Martin McGuinness could have pointed out that the tweet wasn’t authentic, of course. But by presenting it as fact and addressing it to Seán Gallagher, RTÉ were relying very heavily on Martin McGuinness to set the record straight. He didn’t! This was not Martin McGuiness’s job, however. This was RTÉ’s. Seán Gallagher’s fate was effectively put in the hands of someone whose credibility, RTÉ have themselves frequently questioned.

And remember, as McGee pointed out, “the (disastrous) ‘envelope’ reference was forced on the back of the false tweet”.

This has been a torrid few weeks for RTÉ current affairs with the most recent of the current ‘current’ problems following hot on the heels of the station’s apology to Fr Kevin Reynolds in the wake of last May’s Mission to Prey by the Prime Time Investigates team.

Miriam O’Callaghan did no favours to RTÉ’s credibility, yesterday, either, when she announced on Newstalk’s The Right Hook that she votes only on the basis of gender. RTÉ ‘must do better’ if it is to get anywhere close to regaining the ‘trust of the people’

Irish Times’ Editor, Kevin O’Sullivan, was the special guest on Newstalk’s Breakfast, yesterday morning, when Ivan Yates and Chris Donoghue subjected Geraldine Kennedy’s successor to an apparently tough interview.

The new editor, in the job just four months, was forced to field quick-fire questions on issues varying from declining sales, to the website pay wall;  from the broadsheet format, to the Paper’s “property porn” features in the ‘bubble-boom’ years.

O’Sullivan was even pressed on fomer Times’ MD, Maeve Donovan’s severance package and, more importantly, on the Times’ apparent support for Michael D Higgins as President: Was the Irish Times becoming more of a “views paper” than a “news paper”? Was the Irish Times ‘Trust‘ betraying the trust of its readers.

All good! However, no one asked Kevin O’Sullivan the really big questions. This is not suprising. There is a tendency in the Irish media, in particular, not to go really deep, a tendency to make a big fuss of, admittedly, important questions but to ignore the most impotant ones of all.

The good is often the enemy of the best, and journalism — another fisherman-like occupation where one must ‘put out into the deep‘ to get a catch (of truth) —  is no exception to this rule.

You see, no one asked Kevin O’Sullivan the following…

“Why did you put RTÉ’s apology to Fr Kevin Reynolds into a tiny column on the bottom of Page 7, the same day that you placed a story about the family of Dana (who was running at 4% in the polls) at the top of the front page?”


“How do you respond to Dr Helen Buckley’s allegation, against the media in general, of disproportionate reporting with respect to Child abuse?”

And what about?…

“Three per cent of abuse (clerical) got 80% of coverage in approximately 10 years — What about the 97%?!”

As the ‘paper of record’ the Irish Times has a special responsibility. Disproportionate reporting of abuse, not only, does a disservice to the Catholic Church and its vast majority of exceptionally dedicated priests and faithful laity — some of whom now, apparently, have been “made to feel like criminals in their own county”.

The disproportionate reporting of abuse is, also, grossly unfair to the 97% of abuse victims who were not in the tiny minority of victims abused by a similarly tiny minority of priests and religious.

Dr Mark O’Brien, author of The Irish Times: A History (2008), refers to “the institution that is the Irish Times”. By ignoring some sources of abuse while emphasising others (presumably in order to pursue a particular agenda?), the Irish Times appears to be guilty of its own form of ‘institutional neglect‘. Why is some suffering newsworthy while the rest is not worth the paper it’s not printed on.

It is time for the Irish Times to reflect more accurately the abuse that is still going on in this country.   It is time for the ‘paper of  record’ to not merely be a paper of some records while leaving others largely unwritten. It is time, ultimately, for the ‘Trust’ to restore the trust of its neglected Irish Catholic readership.



A similar bias to that displayed by the Human Rights Committee, with respect to religion and education, (see David Quinn, Irish Independent – Oct 7) is, also, more than apparent in the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC).

In fact, at its launch, last May, of  ‘Religion and Education: A Human Rights Perspective‘, the IHRC used this month’s then upcoming UN review of our human rights record, to pile pressure on the Government to “change” if it hoped to “escape a rebuke” by the UN! (see Irish Independent, May 25) Perish the thought! Of course!

One of the areas needing change, we were told, then, (and the Commission discussed this at some length) was  “inadvertent indoctrination or proselytism” by Catholic schools of (even) Catholic children!

But, when the following very real concerns were raised by one woman, from the floor

  1. the ridicule of religious beliefs at Third Level and
  2. State indoctrination in the form of sex education at Second Level,

there was a discernible shudder of horror and disbelief in the hall: ‘how could someone dare to make such a preposterous ‘off message’ intervention!? Indeed, who let her in ??’

It was hard not to be left with the impression that the vast majority of the attendees at Wood Quay, that day, viewed the Commission as some sort of private club to be used solely as a means of advancing an esoteric anti-religious ideology.


Senator:”What is the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources going to do about it?"

Senator: "Has the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Pat Rabbitte, been in contact with RTE regarding the editorial procedures followed by those who make programmes such as ‘Prime Time’?"

“Senators called for an urgent debte into the role of the media in Ireland” RTE Oireachtas Report (18 mins into video)


Here are some quotes taken diectly from the Seanad record of Tuesday 11th October, 2011.

“Has the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Pat Rabbitte, been in contact with RTE regarding the editorial procedures followed by those who make programmes such as ‘Prime Time’?…will the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, if he has not done so already, seek an urgent meeting with the director general of RTE to discover the nature and extent of the editorial procedures that apply in cases such as this?…What is the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources going to do about it? Has he made contact with RTE…What are the investigatory or procedural measures RTE and other broadcasters have in place to ensure people%u2019s good names will be protected?” – Senator Darragh O’Brien – Tue 11 Oct 2011


“Senators called for an urgent debte into the role of the media in Ireland” RTE Oireachtas Report (18 mins into video)

Although RTÉ’s “apology is in the public domain (…) the subject matter will be before the High Court”.   Comments have, therefore, been temporarily disabled for this posting. Shhhhhh!

However, RTÉ’s Oireachtas Report is very much worth listening to and the full Seanad transcript is very much woth reading!


“Apology – Fr Kevin Reynolds

On the evening of the 23rd May 2011, RTÉ broadcast a Prime Time Investigates programme entitled “A Mission to Prey”.

Before this broadcast Prime Time conducted an interview with Fr. Kevin Reynolds, the then parish priest at Ahascragh in Galway.

This interview took place beside the parochial house
after the annual First Holy Communion Mass.

During this interview allegations were made against Fr. Reynolds. He immediately protested his innocence and denied all the allegations.

Between the interview and the broadcast, Fr. Kevin Reynolds, through his Solicitors, repeated his protestations of innocence, asked RTÉ not to broadcast the interview and volunteered to
undergo a paternity test.

Prime Time duly broadcast the programme accusing Fr. Reynolds of raping a minor named Veneranda while he was a missionary in Kenya and fathering a child named Sheila as a result of this rape.

He was also accused of secretly providing funds to Sheila.

Both Veneranda and Sheila were interviewed in the programme to corroborate the allegations.

As a result Fr. Kevin Reynolds was obliged to stand down from ministry and was removed as the parish priest of Ahascragh. He had to leave his home and his parish.

He was compelled by the actions of RTÉ to institute High Court defamation proceedings to vindicate his good name and reputation.

RTÉ acknowledges that the material in the programme concerning Fr. Reynolds ought never to have been broadcast.

RTÉ now fully and unreservedly accepts that the allegations made by Prime Time against Fr. Kevin Reynolds are baseless, without any foundation whatever and untrue and that Fr. Reynolds is a priest of the utmost integrity who has had an unblemished 40 year career in the priesthood and who has made a valuable contribution to society in Kenya and Ireland both in education and in ministry.

RTÉ acknowledges the defamation has had a devastating effect on Fr. Kevin Reynolds, his family, his peers, his parishioners in Ahascragh, those in the diocese of Kakamega in Kenya who were aware of the allegations and all those who know him or of him.

RTÉ fully and unreservedly apologises to Fr. Kevin Reynolds for this defamation and deeply regrets the serious consequences suffered by him. He was entirely innocent of the allegations
broadcast about him.” – RTÉ website posted on Thursday 6th October  2011 (Eve of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary)



In May of this year,


“Good that more terrible abuse has been brought, in a certain sense, into the light, particularly in the ‘forgotten continent’. Strange, however, that the absence of any criminal conviction and the assertion of innocence should be presented as proof of guilt. Not sure also about the producers’ confidence in Africa’s criminal justice systems — was under the impression that concerns had been raised, in particular about Uganda’s proposed execution of those accused of homosexual rape. A recent documentary on South African prisons also showed the horrific lawlessness that obtains there…Will be following with interest the results of that paternity test. Hope I’ll be able to find them easily on the RTE website, whatever the outcome...” (emphasis added)

(RTE has still not posted this comment!)

Just how shameful the behaviour of RTÉ was, in this case, can be seen from its determination to press ahead with the broadcast of the programme ‘A Mission to Prey’, in spite of the immediate protestations of innocence by Fr Kevin Reynolds,  in spite of Fr Reynolds’ volunteering to undergo a paternity test and in spite of the severe negative consequences this innocent priest was sure to suffer.

‘RTÉ’s Vision is to grow the trust of the people of Ireland as it informs, inspires, reflects and enriches their lives’ – RTÉ website

'Blind Passion'? RTÉ was determined to press ahead with the broadcast of the programme, 'A Mission to Prey' on 23rd May, despite Fr Kevin Reynolds' immediate protestations of innocence, despite the damaging consequences to the priest and in particular, despite Fr Reynolds' volunteering to undergo a paternity test at that time

'Blind Passion'? RTÉ was determined to press ahead with the broadcast of the programme, 'A Mission to Prey' on 23rd May, despite Fr Kevin Reynolds' immediate protestations of innocence, despite the damaging consequences to the priest and in particular, despite Fr Reynolds' volunteering to undergo a paternity test at that time